The post will focus on a baseline that was suggested by a scout. So, yes, the opinion of a single professional is how we will value Jones' worth here. What is that worth? It was posited that Adam Jones would be worth a top 25 player, a top 50 player, and a top 100 player. In other words, I would translate this as meaning a A-, B+ and B level player. One final way of looking at it, a 60, a 56, and a 52. That means that some in this business think very highly of Adam Jones. We at the Depot have not thought as highly of Jones in the past, but what matters is who values him the most.
This second part will focus on packages from NL Central teams. The first piece discussed NL East teams.
Brett Jackson, CF
Trey McNutt, RHP
Josh Vitters, 3B
There is more value to this package than at first glance. I view Jackson similarly to Jones a few years back, but slightly underrated likely in how others view that comparison. Jackson could be a first division center fielder or he could be a fringe average left fielder. McNutt looks like a top end relief arm. He has move his fastball into the upper 90s in short stints and a plus slider. If he can improve his change up, then he might be a mid-rotational arm. Josh Vitters falls into what I call the Shea Hillenbrand mold. He has a poor ability to walk, but he does a good job meeting the ball. For me he profiles as a guy who will deliver a few solid average seasons with a couple 300/340/440 seasons ideally at third, but maybe at first or right. Regardless, I do not think Theo Epstein has any interest in trading for Adam Jones. Epstein needs a young group of players to build upon and someone like Jackson is that player. McNutt and Vitters are small pieces that Epstein has been willing in the past to hand out. I'm not sure the best use of Jones is pulling back a potential replacement, a backend bullpen arm, and a potentially average third baseman or a poor first baseman.
Billy Hamilton, SS/CF
Zach Cozart, SS/3B
Todd Frazier, 3B/LF
The Mat Latos deal removed a great deal of talent from the Reds system that would interest the Orioles. Hamilton would be the prize here. He is an 80 runner with raw hitting and fielding skills. He profiles as a first division shortstop or could be moved to center field. Hamilton needs to work on improving his skills, so that he can take advantage of his tool box. He would likely break into the Majors in 2014. Cozart could be the Orioles starting third basemen in 2012. He has good hands and an accurate arm and his hitting should be sufficient. His true value is likely as a first division utility infielder, but he should make a career as a second division third baseman. Frazier could also be the Orioles starting third baseman in 2012 or he could be in left field or even fill in at second. He has spent some time in the past year as a utility infielder. Frazier has been one of those players whose plus power plays well in the minors, but has questions surrounding it in the Majors. I used to think highly of him, but Nick would chide me commenting on Frazier's arm bar (a similar issue Nick had with Gordan Beckham). Frazier may never hit well enough to be a full time player in the Majors, perhaps being better suited as being a platoon player against lefties. This deal would help fill out the team a bit with more utlity/fringe second division types. It all basically hinges on your evaluation of Billy Hamilton.
Wily Peralta, RHP
Scooter Gennett, 2B
Logan Schafer, CF
This is a poor man's version of the Cincinnati Reds deal. Peralta profiles as a top end closer or a potential 2/3 starting pitcher. He throws in the low 90s and primarily works off his fastball. He has average, perhaps less than average, offerings in his change up and slider. He had a successful stint in AAA last year and could open the year in Baltimore if given the chance. Scooter Gennett is a low minors second baseman. He reminds me a little bit of Brian Roberts and like Brian Roberts, Scooter will likely need to prove himself at every rung on the ladder. He has less speed than Roberts and is showing power at an earlier age. Schafer has lost a great deal of time in his minor league career due to injuries. However, he has shown the ability to play center and show above average power.
Jameson Taillon, RHP
Pedro Alvarez, 1B/3B
Robbie Grossman, LF/RF
Click. I imagine that will be what Dan Duquette would hear upon mentioning Taillon. The Pirates do not need Adam Jones, so this is an exercise that likely is not realistic. Adrew McCutcheon is an very good center fielder. He will also be a very good left fielder when Starling Marte is promoted. Maybe the Pirates would want Jones to form an excellent defensive outfield of Marte, McCutcheon, and Jones, but that seems like overdoing the three center fielder idea. I do not think they would entertain Marte's inclusion here along with Taillon's. You could probably flip the two and maybe get traction. We are big fans of Jameson Taillon and openly wished for him to fall to the Orioles instead of Manny Machado. Taillon throws an easy plus fastball in the high 90s, a plus table drop curve, and a plus slider. He is a monster. Grossman profiles as an average to above average corner outfielder. He is competent defensively and shows a good understanding of the strike zone. There are some questions as to whether his 2011 performance was more a matter of repeating a level than actually improving to such a remarkable degree.
St. Louis Cardinals
Shelby Miller, RHP
Oscar Taveras, LF/RF
Zach Cox, 2B/3B
This is an interesting collection of players. Miller is as sure a bet to be a star as a pitching prospect can be (that will likely be the reason why the Cardinals would never consider having him included in a deal). He commands his fastball in the mid 90s with workable curve and change. Without his inclusion, I do not see how the Orioles could get a good return for Jones. Taveras holds a lot of promise and could be an excellent player as he matures. He makes great contact and has good secondary power. He is likely to play in AA this year as a 20 year old. Cox would provide sure mid-level value. He will likely profile as an average or above average bat at second or third with value coming from plus contact.
Pittsburgh has the least need for Adam Jones as they sport two above average centerfielders on their 40 man roster. Chicago is a club that is likely to be short on want as they will very much like to have a player like Brett Jackson who could provide production similar to Adam Jones for a lower cost and a long time frame (if he pans out). The Cardinals simply are not going to give away a prospect who is a short distance from the Majors and has ace potential. Although Jones would be of use, the cost seems too high for the Cardinals. Milwaukee could use Jones to help mitigate the loss of Prince Fielder. However, Nyjer Morgan and Logan Schafer are two internal options that will be cheaper and not impact the club in the long term as losing prospects might. Milaukee is dealing with a short window to bring in a World Series Championship, so a move here might make the most sense to them. For the Orioles, the package is underwhelming. It is, more or less, Peralta and odds and ends. The club needs more value here or a higher ceiling value. A mid-season deal involving both Peralta and Jungman/Bradley would be more suitable, but likely will be asking for too much for only a season and a half of Jones. That leaves Cincinnati who could use Jones, but would they leverage so many of their assets for 2012? Hamilton will not factor into their 2012 or 2013 plans and may in fact never be more than a loose set of impressive tools. Cozart and Frazier would be useful to their 2012 effort, but the Reds may be able to find other ways to fill them in with other players. It is possible they could add a Robert Andino and Drew Stubbs side deal in there. I could see a Cincinnati deal being workable on both sides, but prefer the options discussed in the NL East post.